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Here is a short sample from the book:
Jackie stopped dead in her tracks. What was that? A light noise coming from somewhere in the back of the mansion turned her blood to ice. She immediately turned the flashlight off and stood still, holding her breath. Her mouth went dry. What if there was someone in the mansion? How would she explain who she was and what she was doing here in the middle of the night? Then again, would her explanations make any difference to whomever, or even worse whatever, was out there? The old mansion was pitch black, far away from any civilized soul and the owner dead. Who could it be?
Jackie instinctively flattened herself against the wall, waiting, trying to track the source of the noise and peer through the darkness. Her heart pounded fast, so loud she could swear she could hear its echo in the room. The back of her neck prickled. Was it true? She silently cursed herself for laughing at Stephanos’ warnings. What if he was right? What if something supernatural was responsible for the mysterious deaths in the family of Greek tycoon, Andreas Demiris?
Now, trapped here, feeling something lurking in the dark, she wished she’d thought better before flying six thousand miles away from home on this weird, creepy assignment. But she always jumped head first into every new challenge. She should have known her impulsiveness would get her into trouble one day.
She waited motionless for a couple of minutes that seemed an eternity, too scared to even breathe. The fact that she couldn’t see anything around her made matters even worse. The dim moonlight behind the threatening clouds didn’t penetrate the stained glass windows. The inside was as pitch black and eerie as the forest surrounding the old mansion. Jackie desperately tried to pick up the slightest noise. But, there was nothing—only dead silence.
She knew she was being foolish. There is nobody here, she reassured herself. Why should there be? The place was deserted and had been for months. All she needed to do was to find what she had come for and get out as soon as possible.
Blind in the complete darkness, she took a couple of steps to her right, keeping her hand against the wall. At the same time, her other hand clung tightly to the flashlight, ready to use it as a weapon. All her senses worked overtime to detect the slightest noise or movement whatsoever. Even though she sensed nothing, the warning bell going off inside her head was impossible to ignore.
Suddenly, Jackie stiffened. Something was moving closer to her…a lot closer. She froze in place and held her breath.
A strong hand grabbed her by the throat and shoved her violently against the wall. A sudden strong light shone in her face, blinding her. She instinctively closed her eyes.
She struggled to breathe, but the grip tightened around her throat. Fear paralyzed her. On the cusp of fainting, she heard a deep, masculine voice, commanding in Greek, “Who are you?”
She gasped for air and flailed at her assailant with her flashlight. He blocked her move with impossible speed and effortlessly knocked the flashlight out of her hand. Jackie raised her arms and frantically tried to free her throat from the deadly grasp. It was no use. The hand seemed to be made of steel.
A second later, the question was repeated, more insistent this time. The grasp loosened just a little bit, allowing some air into her lungs and giving her a chance to answer.
“Please…” she managed to whisper.
She heard him taking a deep breath, but couldn’t see anything with his flashlight shining in her face.
“Who are you?” he asked, in English this time. His voice was deep, with a clear foreign accent.
Who is he and what is he doing here? Jackie wondered anxiously. What could she possibly say to him? She couldn’t tell him the truth. But, on the other hand, would he settle for anything less? Her mind worked double time as she sensed him shifting impatiently.
“You do speak English, don’t you?”
“Yes…yes,” she whispered. “Please, I can’t breathe” she continued, trying to buy some time. Actually, it was the truth. She could hardly breathe with his strong hand wrapped tightly around her throat.
“Who are you?” he insisted, without relaxing his grasp any more.
“Jackie…Jackie Alexander,” she muttered.
“And what are you doing here, Jackie Alexander?” he demanded.
Now, that was the hard part. She had prepared a few things in her mind, just in case there were questions raised for her sudden, unexpected visit to the island. But she hadn’t expected to find anyone in this old mansion in the middle of the night.
“I’m…a relative of the owners,” she said. This part wasn’t far from the truth.
The man hesitated for a moment.
“I’m a relative of Constantinos Demiris,” she repeated.
His hand released her throat and she sucked in a ragged breath. He remained unbearably close though, blocking every possible escape route.
She heard a distinctive click, and the bright light of a chandelier filled the room.
Jackie looked around her, disoriented, and finally, her eyes rested on him. He was tall, at least six inches taller than she, and at five feet eight inches, she was no shrimp. He had jet-black hair and a well built muscular body any athlete would envy. His face was very handsome, with a strong jaw and the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Those eyes now searched her face intensely. Jackie felt uneasy under his piercing gaze. It was as if he could clearly see all the way to her soul.
For a moment, they stared into each other’s eyes and Jackie felt her heart suspended in her chest…but not from fear this time. Even though he looked tough, she had to admit he was startling handsome and manly—a “seductive stranger” as Aphrodite, her romantic teenage cousin, would call him.
The thought of sweet, innocent Aphrodite jolted her back to reality. She had to find out who or what was causing the deaths of all the heirs. They had died one by one, all in accidents, starting two years ago with the oldest. Now, her dearest cousin back in Atlanta was next in line. Jackie was desperate to find out how and why. And coming to the Demiris mansion on the island of Corfu was the right place to start her search.
“That still doesn’t explain what you’re doing out here in the middle of the night.” He watched her closely.
Jackie could tell that he was on guard, ready to prevent any attempt to escape. He was obviously stronger and faster, but didn’t seem aggressive.
She began to relax. Now that the initial shock of her capture was behind her, she needed to regain control of the situation.
“And who exactly are you?” she demanded.
A smile appeared on the handsome stranger’s face and he gave her an appreciative look. “You’re a tough cookie, aren’t you?” he said.
Jackie shifted uneasily, as she felt his gaze caressing her skin. Her pulse accelerated. She could see the desire in those beautiful eyes, as blue as the waters of the Ionian Sea surrounding the island. Oh, God! How easily I could get lost in those eyes.
“Michael Apostolou” he said suddenly, catching her off guard. “Detective Michael Apostolou” he added, putting emphasis on the word detective.
Oh no! He was with the police. That was the worst thing that could happen to her right now. She had only been on the island for a few hours and here she was, caught by the police breaking and entering. How would she get out of this? Why hadn’t she waited until tomorrow morning to talk to the attorney, as Stephanos had instructed her? But no, she wanted to check out the documents in the safe, without anyone looking over her shoulder.
Having no clue who or what could be causing the deaths in the Demiris family, Jackie hoped to find something in the folders hidden in the safe to shed some light on this mystery. She intended to read through every single one of those documents, searching for information which could possibly prevent another murder and uncover the one who would benefit from killing the others.
Knowing that he was watching her closely to see her reaction, Jackie remained as calm and apparently relaxed as she could possibly manage.
“And now, Miss Alexander, would you mind explaining, what you were doing breaking into this house in the middle of the night?” There was a touch of sarcasm in his voice.
“I didn’t exactly break in,” Jackie explained.
Michael took a step closer and leaned over her, watching her very closely. “And what would you call breaking a window and climbing inside a building that doesn’t belong to you?” The sarcasm was even more obvious now.
Jackie raised her chin and looked at him puzzled. “But I didn’t break any window.” This whole damn thing was getting out of hand. She needed a way out of here and as far away from him as possible. Now, why would that thought make her feel sad? What was the matter with her? Had fear paralyzed her and messed with her ability to think straight?
“Oh, really?” he asked. He grabbed her arm, and pulled her towards an arch, which led to what seemed to be the living room.
Jackie gasped. A window hung wide open and pieces of broken glass peppered the carpet. She hadn’t done that. Turning to look at him though, she was absolutely sure she was going to have a hard time convincing him of that. Those amazing blue eyes were looking at her accusingly. Suddenly, she realized that someone else had broken the window. She tensed, looking around anxiously.
Michael followed her look but didn’t release her arm. “Well?” he asked. “What do you have to say about this?”
“I didn’t do it,” she said, looking at him straight in the eyes. “I came in through the front door.”
“Oh, is that so?” he asked and his lips pressed into a thin line. She could tell he was losing his patience.
But it was the truth. She had tried the front door first and was surprised to find it unlocked. It had seemed kind of odd, but she wanted to get in and out as fast as she could and didn’t give it a second thought. Being out here, miles away from any living soul and especially in the middle of the night, wasn’t something she was crazy about. However, she had a job to do and she wanted to do it fast and clean.
“I swear I didn’t break that window.” She tried to free her arm from his grip.
“Now, you listen to me…” A loud noise, like something falling on the second floor, interrupted him. He immediately let go off her arm and took off towards the foyer. A gun appeared in his hand.
“Don’t move!” he ordered over his shoulder. He rushed towards the massive staircase, with the grace of an athlete and the swift moves of a panther.
Jackie stood still. She watched him climb the stairs, two steps at a time. Her mouth went dry and her heart pounded fast in her chest. What now?
On a sudden impulse, she turned and climbed out the broken window. She moaned as she scratched herself on the pieces of broken glass still hanging from the window frame. Stepping on the veranda that surrounded the ground floor, she frantically looked around. She rushed down the front steps and ran towards the thick woods.
Michael rushed upstairs, holding his gun in his right hand. Reaching the second floor, he stood still at the top of the stairs. He looked down the corridor, towards the direction the sound had come from. Dead silence….
He tried the light switch, but the lights didn’t come on. No lights seemed to be working on the second floor. Only the light from the chandelier in the foyer downstairs helped him find his way around. He walked down the hallway, opening doors and searching every room. Still nothing….
He reached the last room and carefully opened the door. Stepping inside, he flattened himself against the wall. He stood still, listening, when a soft breeze of fresh air struck him in the face. He looked towards the open window and approached it, just in time to glimpse Jackie entering the woods.
Damn that girl! She got away!
He was ready to turn and run back downstairs when he saw him. The man was tall and slim and dressed in black. He was running towards the woods in the same direction Jackie had taken.
Michael drew a deep breath. He could feel it in his guts—the girl was in grave danger.
He stormed downstairs and out of the mansion, following the direction the other two had taken.
Pushing through the heavy shrubbery, Jackie raced towards the small dirt road where her rented car was hidden. Reaching the car, she panicked. Where did she have the car keys? She searched her pockets and was relieved to feel the key in her hand. But to get it in the lock was another story. Trying hard to control her trembling, she finally managed to unlock the door on the third try. She jumped inside and locked the door behind her. Breathing heavily, she leaned back against the headrest and closed her eyes for a moment.
I need to pull myself together!
All she wanted right now was to drive away. She turned the key in the ignition and was relieved to hear the old engine roar to life. She heard someone calling out for her, but she wasn’t about to stop. She pressed her foot down on the gas pedal and drove off as fast as she could.
Speeding around a sharp curve, a man dashed out of the woods and into her path. She screamed and wrenched the wheel violently to the right. The car fishtailed and skidded off the road. It veered towards the edge of the cliff, fast, out of control.
Jackie shoved against the door with all her strength. It wouldn’t budge. Oh, God! This is really happening. She was going to die. There was nothing she could do to stop this dreadful nightmare. She clutched the steering wheel and gritted her teeth. The car rattled all over the place. She drew a sudden breath and her body went rigid. The car plunged over the edge and she screamed at the top of her lungs. The vast blue of the sea filled her vision. A sharp pain shot through her head. Time seemed to stop and everything went blank….